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Report: Mavericks, Heat could try to poach John Collins from Hawks

Looking to avoid the first three-game losing streak since NBA players started playing for Team USA, the U.S. men's basketball team defeats Argentina 108-80 in a Las Vegas exhibition.

John Collins is a restricted free agent and he wants max money.

Collins averaged 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game last season, and while his counting stats took a step back in the regular season (by design, to give Bogdan Bogdanovic more touches), he stepped up in the playoffs, increased his value, and was a key part of Atlanta’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

But is Collins a max player? The buzz around the league for a while has been the Hawks don’t think so and would not match a massive offer, and Shams Charania of The Athletic said the Mavericks, Heat, and other teams are considering it.

Across the league, many believe Hawks forward/center John Collins increased his value as a maximum contract-caliber player during Atlanta’s run to the Eastern Conference finals. In 18 postseason games, Collins averaged 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 35.7 percent 3-point shooting.

Dallas, Miami, San Antonio and Minnesota are among the teams expected to show interest in Collins, believing he could be attainable as a restricted free agent, sources said.

In an interview after the season, Hawks owner Tony Ressler sounded like a guy who had a ceiling with Collins he would not go above. After saying he wanted a “fair agreement” with Collins, Ressler later added, “I’m not sure we’re going to be able to keep every single player that we want to keep. Pretty good bet, pretty good assumption we will not.”

That doesn’t mean the Hawks will let Collins walk, and maybe they match a max (or give him one outright). Still, it makes it sound like GM Travis Schlenk has some tough decisions coming up.

It’s easy to see why teams are considering trying to poach him. Collins as a finisher at the rim and defender in the paint makes sense in Dallas if they can move on from Kristaps Porzingis. In Miami, Collins and Bam Adebayo would form a freakishly athletic front line that can space the floor and do a little playmaking. Collins could be part of the future in San Antonio with Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson.

But is he worth max or near-max money to fill those roles? Collins hopes so.